In recent years the phrase “Inbox zero” has become a part of our everyday language. When I mentioned this goal to a client, they explained that they would love to reach the point of “Inbox zero”. It’s a place that many of us struggle to reach however much we try. The article today will help you to use GTD (Getting Things Done) to reach the special moment of “Inbox zero”
Last month I wrote an article on our Inbox and the comparative importance of our breakfast. We understand that a healthy breakfast gives us a great start to the day. In productivity terms, our Inbox gives us a great starting point to be more productive. But, the golden question is “How can I reach Inbox Zero?”
What Is Inbox Zero?
You may recall that our Inbox is a place where we can dump everything and anything that’s rattling around in our brains. It can be as simple as ‘Call Grandma!’ or as important as ‘Email my stockbroker.’
We are finding living in a digital world we get information coming at us from every direction. Our Inbox can fill up as quick as I can write this sentence, and we can be overwhelmed.
Inbox Zero is the goal we aim for when we can handle those separate pieces of information in an effective manner and place them in the right parts of our workflow. We want to empty our Inbox.
Reaching Inbox Zero regularly and in an organised manner is an absolute must if we want to have a life that’s relatively stress-free and purposeful.
Here’s a question for you. Since you read the article How To Make Your Inbox As Important As Your Breakfast, have you implemented the suggestions?
Did you arrange one physical and one digital Inbox?
Are you setting aside time each day to dump your brain into your Inbox?
If you are struggling to put into action good daily habits that will improve your productivity, then contact me to see if I can help.
Where Should I Empty The Contents Of My Inbox?
If you had the chance to read the famous book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, you’ll be familiar with the 5 steps he encourages for mastering workflow.
Two of those steps described in the 5 steps of mastering workflow is to clarify and organise.
The main question GTD enthusiasts train themselves to ask with each item is “Is It Actionable Or Not?”
Inbox Zero: Non-Actionable
Every time I sort out my Inbox I always find notes, pamphlets, ideas that felt good at the time but they will not help you move forward.
Don’t fit it in your system, just BIN IT!
If you read the first version of Getting Things Done and lapped it up straight away, you will be familiar with David Allen “Tickler System”. When I started “GTD”, I went the whole hog with my manilla folders and created my full tickler system.
Now, a few years on we can use an efficient tickler system with our Calendar or Evernote reminders.
You may own pieces of information in your Inbox that don’t need immediate action. However, in a few weeks or months time, you will want to integrate it into your system.
For example, you might have received a leaflet advertising a concert, play, or convention you’d wish to attend. However, the date of the event is in 4 or 5 months time. So, you create a reminder in Evernote or on your calendar for 3 months time when you will handle it differently.
It’s likely that within your bursting Inbox there is a lot of pieces of paper you should file away in an effective manner.
Some information in your Inbox is supporting material for existing projects in your system. Other forms of material in the Inbox will be for reference use only. This could be maps, manuals, magazines, or printed research material. Both types of information require filing.
We need to remember to make our filing fun and easy. It’s best to file your information in alphabetical order. It’s also advisable not to stuff each folder with too much material.
Inbox Zero: Actionable
This part of Inbox Zero requires a more detailed explanation. I will cover the 4 options of Delegate, 2 Minute Tasks, Project Lists, Next Actions in the second part of this post.
Join me next Friday to see how GTD can help you effectively and regularly deal with your actionable items and get Inbox Zero.
How do you get to Inbox Zero?
Let me know which methods you use?
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